Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Taiga Bean counting

I kept my twitches under control and avoided getting stoned today. Instead I got beaned.
The Taiga/fabalis Bean Goose flock had risen to 129 birds plus a single Pink-foot today. All of the GPS tagged birds are here but one would hope there are more birds to come as otherwise this would be the lowest spring count on record. The winter count in Scotland was 216 birds which is a low count and 50 fewer than the previous winter and may well reflect the apparent very low breeding success last year (based on my observations of juveniles in the autumn flock). There was no coordinated count at the Danish stop over but one sighting gave a flock size of 155. We know that not all of the Scottish birds follow the Norwegian migration route but we must hope that more birds will turn up (the migration from Scotland to Denmark was clearly difficult due to winds and birds may have died plus I believe there might be hunting in DK).

Good news though was that I counted a whopping 16 ringed birds. All of these birds are ones I saw last spring with at least 2 of the birds also being amongst those I saw back in 2012 when we had the first sightings. I’ll have to try to have a look at the data from back then to see what survival rates looks like.

There were two birds that I saw in 2016 that I did not see today. One of these was not seen in Scotland either so is most likely an ex-goose and the other was seen in Scotland so hopefully means that there are still some more geese to turn up.

I had three new spring migrants today – Grey Wagtail, Brambling and Merlin – but not the Mistle Thrush which I predicted. In fact, I didn’t see a single thrush or Starling today.

A flock of 8 Wigeon were my first dabbling duck migrants of the year and Cranes have become a bit more numerous 8 in total at 4 sites. Two Buzzards were also new in.

Whooper Swans remain numerous but I still haven’t managed to find any Bewick’s but one flock did contain 4 Tundra/rossicus Bean Geese which must be having their best spring in Akershus. In the field I had no doubt that these birds were rossicus even though one of them had a truly enormous bill. Looking at my pictures though it is no longer so obvious although the pictures fail to convey the jizz that ones sees with the live birds and I could see the bill shape and grinning patch uch better through the scope than the pictures show. Telling these two (sub)species apart is not always an easy or even possible task with lone birds and pictures but is usually much easier with flocks of birds.

Despite the fields being bare and attracting the first migrants in the east of the county, Maridalen remains covered in snow and a check of the fields there revealed absolutely no birds!

I had my first butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell today!

The Taiga Bean Geese (sædgås) on their favoured field with Whooper Swans (sangsvane)
This van coming to collect wood scared the geese off at quite some range (Taiga Beans are true wild geese) although the swans stayed puy

The geese then flew down to the Glomma River and their favoured sandbank. Udenes Church in the background is where I normally view from but I made a closer visit today so as to read the rings which I had not been able to do on the fields due to long range. The geese are very wary and a very stealthy approach is required. I do not recommend viewing from the river bank unless there are rings needing to be read as the risk of scarying the birds is high
5 collared birds together. I have often noted that the collared birds are close to each other and this may indicate family bonds (they were clearly close to each other also when canon netted in Scotland). In this shot the five ringed birds are 6U and 30 (a pair), T8, 29 & 27 (a pair), 
The inscription on the neck collar of this bird has faded off but the yellow leg rin on left leg shows it to be 3T/04 one of the first birds ringed back in 2011.
this bird has lost its collar but the black ring on left leg allows it to be identified as 07 which was trapped in 2012
a group of birds including a few with collars. Note the yellow ring on the right leg of a bird showing is to be 29

The four Tundra/rossicus Bean Geese I found. Note how their necks are not as long and swan like and their heads are squarer shaped 
these two birds though do have exceptionally long bills for rossicus based on my experience. One could even wonder if they are of a far eastern origin (ssp serrirostris)

two Buzzards (musvåk) 

this Great Grey Shrike (varsler) was singing. The left picture is taken with the bazooka and the right with the superzoom

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